For 2009, Cadillac has decided to do away with any “entry” level versions of their expensive XLR roadster and only offer it with either the luxurious Platinum trim or high-powered V packages. If there were any lingering thoughts that Cadillac is outclassed by convertibles from BMW or Mercedes Benz, the 2009 XLR puts that notion to rest.
For the most part, the 2009 retractable hardtop convertibles are revised only aesthetically. Both 2009 XLR models have new front fascias with unique grilles and redesigned foglamps, but the normal XLR now has the same hood with aggressive middle section that was previously an exclusive feature of the XLR-V. The back of both models have more pronounced exhaust tips and both get model specific 18 inch wheels; chrome on the V version’s wheels are an option. The side vents on both models, which break up the rather long expanse of metal, now extend the whole height of the fender for 2009. The interior is similarly revised, with a new instrument cluster, graphics and materials. Alcantara is used for the roof liner and hand-cut leather is applied to the upper instrument panel. Enhancements available in the previous model year include amenities such as a heated steering wheel. XLR’s advanced technologies also include Adaptive Forward Lighting that enables the headlamps to swivel in concert with vehicle steering, a head-up display, StabiliTrak, heated and cooled seats, Keyless Access with push-button start and DVD navigation and entertainment. The retractable hard top is the centerpiece of the XLR’s design. By pushing and holding a single button, the XLR can convert from coupe to open roadster in less than 30 seconds. The top is made of aluminum and magnesium with composite exterior panels, a heated glass backlight and glass rear-quarter windows.
In terms of performance, the XLR uses a 4.6 liter V-8 engine, which produces 320 horsepower and lb-ft. torque. The XLR-V gets a smaller though more powerful 4.4 liter supercharged V-8 with 443 horses and 414 lb-ft. of torque that is limited to a top speed of 155 mph. The XLR was one of the world’s first vehicles to be equipped with Cadillac’s acclaimed Magnetic Ride Control; an electronically controlled, magnetic-fluid based damping system. Standard on XLR Platinum and XLR-V, the system uses four wheel-to-body displacement sensors to measure wheel motion over the road surface and responds by adjusting the shock damping at speeds approaching one millisecond. The system’s secret is the magneto-rheological fluid contained in its dampers, replacing traditional mechanical valves. Suspended in this fluid are tiny iron particles that respond to an electromagnetic charge. A revised piston profile introduced in ‘08 improves damping capability and decreases shock temperatures, resulting in improved ride and handling. The XLR also has adaptive cruise control (ACC). While not a substitute for full driver attention, this system expands the convenience of cruise control. ACC uses a radar sensor mounted at the front of the car to detect objects in its path. If the lane ahead is clear, the system maintains the set speed, just like conventional cruise control. When it detects a vehicle in the same lane in front of the car, the system adjusts speed to help maintain a constant following distance, set by the driver. Another advantage of the XLR over competitors is its rear-mounted transmission. This helps give the XLR a virtual 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution that helps it achieve a maximum lateral G-force of more than 0.9. 0-60 times for the XLR-V are 4.7 seconds with gas consumption of 14 mpg in city and 17 mpg in highway driving.
Prices range from $80,000 to $100,000 for the powerful XLR-V which, although expensive, is actually a reasonable cost given the vehicle’s level of performance and luxury and the price of the roadster’s Germany competitors.